In 2020, the global machine tool market was worth 111.36 billion U.S. dollars. Affected by the COVID-19 epidemic and the Sino-US trade war, China’s import and export value of machine tools declined by 17.7% and 11.5% respectively in 2020 compared to 2019. However, it is still the world’s largest machine tool market, accounting for approximately 35% of the world’s total.
As a typical mechatronic product, CNC machine tools combine mechanical technology with CNC intelligence. The upstream mainly involves castings, sheet weldments, precision parts, functional parts, CNC systems, electrical components, and other parts. The downstream is widely involved in machinery, molds, automobiles, electrical equipment, railway locomotives, ships, petrochemicals, electronic information technology, and many other industries. The production of machine tools is affected by the demand for automobiles, industry, and transportation machinery. In addition, as the era shifts from traditional machines to CNC machines, suppliers are focusing on the digital transformation of machines. This shift is the result of the end-user industry’s demand for high productivity, high quality, and shortened cycle times. With the development, breakthrough, and implementation of new technologies, the growth of CNC machine tools is expected to increase substantially in the terminal industry.
In 2021, with the large-scale implementation of vaccines and the relatively mild China policy after the end of the US general election, global economic development began to return to normal, but the actual impact still remains to be observed. Downstream application industries such as the automotive and consumer electronics industries had a clear recovery trend in 2021, which also promoted the development of the machine tool market.
The global machine tool market is unified:
Machine tools are mainly divided into metal cutting machine tools, metal forming machine tools, and so on. The machine tool industry plays an important role in the modernization of the national economy. The main machine tool-producing countries include China, Germany, Japan, and the United States. Germany attaches great importance to high-tech, precise, and practical CNC machine tools and accessories. Highly specialized in research and development and production of various functional components, their quality and performance are among the best in the world. Japan focuses on the development of CNC systems, and machine tool manufacturers continue to pay attention to the layout of upstream materials and parts and the integrated development of core products. The United States has strong competitiveness in the design, manufacturing, and basic scientific research of CNC machine tools. China's machine tool industry started late but has developed rapidly, with significant growth in technology and market size.
As China's high-end manufacturing, represented by industries such as automobiles, aerospace, shipbuilding, power equipment, construction machinery, and 3C, has higher and higher requirements for the performance and accuracy of CNC machine tools, the market demand for CNC machine tools has been increasing, especially High-end CNC machine tools. Therefore, the market size is expected to expand steadily. With the continuous deepening of the structural adjustment of China's machine tool industry, the level of machine tool numerical control has been significantly improved, but it is still seriously behind the industrialized countries. In particular, the import rate of high-end, numerical control machine tools is only 6%. This means a huge opportunity for domestic substitution in the future.
Development Status of China's machine tool market:
With the support of China government policies and the pursuit of innovation by enterprises, non-standardized and personalized customized CNC machine tools will become the mainstream of the market, and smart, integrated, and high-precision products will become the industry development trend. China's machine tool industry is entering a transitional period.
China's CNC machine tools are dominated by East China. In 2019, the CNC machine tool market reached 180.5-billion-yuan, accounting for 55% of the China market. The second-ranked Central and Southern region has a market size of 6.246-billion-yuan, accounting for 19% of the total CNC machine tool market in China. Northeast China market size is 38.92 billion yuan (12%), North China is 23.54 billion yuan (7%), Southwest is 17 billion yuan (5%), and the Northwest is 4.58 billion yuan (2%).
The machine tool industry is a strategic industry in the national economy. The processing complexity, precision, and efficiency of machine tools determine a country's manufacturing level, and it also has a significant impact on the country's overall industrial competitiveness and comprehensive national strength. The machine tool industry itself is not large, but the industrial system it supports is very large. One-third of the parts in the machinery manufacturing industry are processed by machine tools. Industrial machinery is the foundation of industrialization and the basis of intelligent manufacturing. National industrial security and national defense security depend on it, and as a basic strategic industry, countries all over the world compete for.
After several years of development, China’s machine tool equipment industry, technology and craftsmanship have matured significantly. Numerical control rate and precision have also been significantly improved. However, at present, machine tool equipment independently developed and produced in China is still in the low-end market. High-end CNC machine tools still mainly rely on imports.
China's main industrial machines have entered a new stage of development and have achieved several major innovations, including the development of high-end CNC machine tools, the development of large-scale heavy-duty basic manufacturing equipment, and high-speed cutting, multi-axis machining, etc. Large-scale heavy equipment such as gantry five-axis machine tools and 80,000-ton die forging presses have filled China's domestic gaps and promoted China's high-end manufacturing capabilities in aerospace, power generation equipment, shipbuilding, and other fields.
The development trend of China's machine tool market:
The development of the machine tool industry in advanced countries (Germany and the United States, etc.) is now evolving from digitalization and automation to collaborative manufacturing and smart manufacturing. Based on the existing digital and automated stand-alone machines, to improve the production efficiency of the manufacturing industry, and in response to a small number of diverse manufacturing types and an environment where the number of jobs will decrease in the future (population and declining birthrate), one after another smart transformation has been adopted. Those solutions such as Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet, integrate the internal resources of the factory (including machine and equipment system information, workers’ technology, and knowledge) and market demand information to develop smart production models that provide better production efficiency.
Focus on "Integration of Intelligent Equipment, Interconnected and Collaborative". It can be understood that China is actively and continuously becoming a manufacturing power. Digitalized machinery and equipment will be the first step in China's improvement of manufacturing equipment energy. China will gradually upgrade its manufacturing capacity through the three stages of digital manufacturing, information interconnection solutions, and smart manufacturing systems to enhance its ability to manufacture high value-added products.
China's industrial machine industry has formed a complete industrial system, with the entire industrial chain, from mainframe functional components to numerical control systems, capable of producing products with a complete range of specifications. In terms of the overall technological level, China is also making great strides in narrowing the gap with developing countries such as Europe, Japan, and the United States. However, China still faces outstanding problems and complex and severe situations in the development of high-end industrial base machines. The current situation of weak basic technology in the research and development of high-end industrial base machines, and the control of core functional components has not fundamentally changed. China's domestic users still have the problem of reluctance to use domestic high-end industrial base machines. External development is becoming more severe. In the international environment of economic globalization and systematic competition, the coupling of economic and technological security factors, technical product barriers represented by "The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies" severely restrict China's industrial transformation upgrade and its development of high-end industries.
On the other hand, with the adjustment of the industrial structure in various fields in China, the upgrading of Industry 4.0 technology, and the gradual growth of strategic emerging industries, the resulting market demand, and technological progress have led to the rapid growth in demand for high-end CNC machine tools from users in the manufacturing industry. In recent years, the integration and application of industrial robots and CNC machine tools have developed rapidly, and the forms of applications in various fields have continued to expand, giving new impetus to the current trend of intelligent China machine tools. It is also expected that the growth rate of investment in fixed equipment will be increased in the next 5 to 10 years in the industries of automobile, aviation, aerospace, military, shipbuilding, rail transit, marine engineering, medical equipment, home appliances, construction machinery, and molds. To maintain growth, the total demand for machine tools, components, and related accessories in the China market will continue to grow. In particular, the growth of high-end CNC machine tools will be even greater, which will usher in new development opportunities for China's high-end equipment manufacturing industry.
China's metal processing automation needs:
With new orders for metal cutting machine tools increasing, metal cutting machine tools are developing for the better, and total profits of the machine tool industry have increased. With the increasing development of the China market, processing technology, and digitization of machines, and to further improve production efficiency and product manufacturing quality, different processing functions and process technologies will be integrated based on the mechanical structure of CNC machine tools. The integration of the machine will be based on the needs of the terminal manufacturing industry. Machine structure, function, and processing methods will be integrated to create high-performance and high-efficiency machine products suitable for processing sites.
In general, the development opportunities of China's machine tool industry outweigh the challenges. With the in-depth integration of a new generation of information technology and manufacturing, the Internet, big data, cloud computing, and 5G technologies, China's industrial machine tools are rapidly moving towards intelligence.
Trends of machine tool market:
The increasing demand for intelligent machine tools is a prominent trend. It is observed that the increasing popularity of robotics and technological advancements such as human-computer interaction will affect the market growth in the current period. The demand for real-time connection has further given birth to the development of cloud smart factories and has also become an important part of smart systems. It is expected to drive the popularization of human-machine collaboration products. These smart tools have sensors that can record and monitor work processes, optimize machine time, schedule maintenance, and can analyze operating data to further improve productivity. In addition, sensors can also improve the predictive analysis of these tool components and their life cycles, which will reduce downtime and help significantly solve the problem of idle time.